Osgoode alumni receive Law Society Medals

Eight Ontario lawyers, two of whom are graduates of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and one who graduated from York’s Faculty of Arts, received the Law Society of Upper Canada’s highest honour on June 21. Law Society Treasurer Frank Marrocco presented Law Society Medals to Osgoode alumni Paul Cavalluzzo (LLB ‘70) and  Brendon O’Brien (BARR ‘32), and to York alumnus Charles Harnick (BA ’72).

Originally struck in 1985, the Law Society Medal is awarded each year to distinguished members of the legal profession whose service reflects the highest ideals of the profession. “The Law Society’s top honours are given to those in the legal profession that go above and beyond what is required of them in serving their clients and their communities,” said Marrocco. “All recipients of the medals are exemplary role models for members of the profession and the people of Ontario.”

“These individuals through their commitment to the profession and their communities have embraced and demonstrated core values of the practice of law such as access to justice, equity and diversity and access to legal services,” said Marrocco.

Paul Cavalluzzo received the Law Society Medal for using the law to promote access to justice for those at the economic margins and for his strong commitment to legal scholarship. Called to the Bar in 1973, Cavalluzzo began his career at a large firm on Bay Street and left shortly thereafter to pursue his interest in labour and public law. He earned an LLM degree from Harvard Law School. In 1983, he became a founding partner of the firm now known as Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre and Cornish. Throughout his career, he has represented trade unions, professional associations and individuals, primarily in the areas of labour, constitutional, administrative and public law. Cavalluzzo’s commitment to public service has been demonstrated through his work on two complex public inquiries. In 2000, he was appointed to serve as chief commission counsel to the Walkerton Inquiry and again in 2004 to the Arar Inquiry. His nominators praised Cavalluzzo for demonstrating “the very best attributes that one would hope to see in an advocate. He has been fearless in representing the interests of his clients, while displaying the utmost courtesy to his opponents and the tribunals before whom he has appeared.”

Brendon O’Brien received the Law Society Medal for his countless contributions to the province’s justice system as a longstanding and distinguished presence in Ontario’s legal profession. After receiving his degree from Osgoode in 1932, a barrister-at-law degree, he began his career as a junior with the firm of Phelan and Richardson. He continued with the firm becoming senior partner before the merger with Aylesworth Thompson in 1986. During a career that spanned six decades, O’Brien was a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School for several years and in 1979 became the first president of the Osgoode Society. He also taught the Bar Admission Course until 1959. O’Brien was elected a bencher of the Law Society  of Upper Canada in 1959 and was elected treasurer in 1966. During his term he made significant contributions including outlining a plan which would eventually become the basis for the Law Foundation of Ontario. According to one of his nominators, “over the past 72 years, Brendan O’Brien has made immense contributions to the legal profession and it is in recognition of these contributions and his enduring service that I am nominating him for the Law Society Medal.”

Former Ontario Attorney General Charles Harnick (BA ‘72) was awarded the Law Society Medal for his involvement in the legal profession, as well as his extensive contributions to the community through politics, communications and the environment. Called to the Bar in 1977, Harnick became a Queen’s Counsel in 1992. For nine years he served as a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament for the Willowdale riding. In 1995, Harnick was appointed Attorney General of Ontario and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs – a post he held until 1999. Following his term as attorney general, he facilitated initial work between lawyers and paralegals to negotiate a protocol on which proposed legislation for paralegal regulation could be based. Harnick is currently a principal of Counsel Public Affairs, a communications consulting company. He also continues in the practice of law and is a federal land claim negotiator.

Formed in 1797, the Law Society of Upper Canada is responsible for governing Ontario’s legal profession in the public interest. It is the Law Society’s role to educate, admit and regulate all lawyers in Ontario.